The Congress desire to give constitutional status to the institution of Lokpal — which was initially described by Team Anna as a delaying tactic — found reflection in the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice, which was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
Dispelling fears that this would delay the passage of the Bill, committee chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told journalists: “It can be passed on the same day and at the same time as the latter, though by a different majority.” The amendment bill to grant constitutional status would not have more than seven paragraphs.
Topping the issues most hotly debated on the committee was whether or not the Prime Minister should be brought within the ambit of the Bill: with a three-way split, the committee has left the final decision “to the good sense of Parliament.”
On the contentious issue of Group C employees, the report recommended that Groups C and D be brought under the Central Vigilance Commission's jurisdiction, and proposed changes in the Central Vigilance Commission Act to ensure that it exercised similar powers in respect of the lower bureaucracy as the Lokpal would have for dealing with the Group A and B employees. However, 14 of the 30 members have recorded their dissent. They include six members of the BJP, three of the Congress, and one each of the CPI(M), the RSP, the SP, the BJD and the BSP.